Fear is in the air in Oyo State as killings, armed robbery and other forms of violence spread. From Ibarapa to Oke-Ogun, Oyo and Ibadan, residents are now more careful and security conscious.
The killing of a young man identified as Rahmon Azeez during a clash between commercial drivers led by Mukaila Lamidi (aka Auxilliary) and shop owners at a popular commercial building in Iwo Road and the killing of Mrs Olayemi Odetomi in Asi are the most recent. Added to this is the murder of On-Air Personality Titus Badejo in Ibadan on June 19.
Residents and observers are at a loss why the days of fear are back in the city after eight years of peace and minimal security breaches.
Police are unhappy
Policemen in Oyo State are said to be unhappy with the way Governor Seyi Makinde handled the fallout of the #EndSARS protest last October during which at least five policemen were killed in the state.
Two, police personnel in the state are discouraged about the failure of the governor to support the families of their slain colleagues. When the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Bayo Adelabu made efforts to do it earlier this year, the widows were alleged to have been discouraged by government officials from collecting the donation because of party differences. According to Adelabu, it took courage for the women to defy the warnings and collect N400,000 gift each.
Three, the police are said to be unhappy that Makinde directed them to withdraw while protesting hoodlums attacked police stations and killed some of their colleagues, particularly in Iwo Road and Ojoo. The governor, it was learnt, gave the directive in the presence of the hoodlums. Though the governor addressed the arsonists to prevent them from burning the Area Command at Idi-Ape, Ibadan, the police believe that Makinde’s action emboldened the hoodlums and made them see police as people they could run over at any time.
For these reasons, most policemen in the state are unwilling to go the extra length in performing their duties. The Federal Government is well known for its poor welfare for police in Nigeria.
Leaders of commercial drivers are in a winnet-takes-all regime
Shortly after Makinde was sworn in as governor, he proscribed the activities of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in the state but tactically brought all activities under the control of Lamidi, a controversial figure. Lamidi operates as the chairman of, Disciplinary Committee of the Park Management System (PMS) introduced by the state government to replace NURTW. In practice, however, he operates as the state chairman of commercial drivers.
But the national leadership of the NURTW has since disowned Auxiliary. It recalled that he was expelled from the union in 2011.
“Governor Seyi Makinde had proscribed the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW in the state since 31st May 2019, hence the union viewed the persistent reports linking it with the nefarious activities of the governor’s appointee as highly unacceptable and urged the Oyo State Government to do the needful and call him to order to prevent avoidable clashes resulting in wanton destruction of properties and loss of lives,” the union said.
In the current arrangement, members of other NURTW factions are excluded by the PMS, thereby throwing them into the society to eke out a living by any means possible. This is in spite of the fact that many arms and ammunition were stolen from police and police stations that were attacked and burnt during the #EndSARS protest. This set of people may have arms.
Hoodlums proudly use Makinde’s name for protection
It has become commonplace for hoodlums to declare: “Omo Seyi ni wa,” (meaning we are Seyi Makinde’s followers who cannot be tampered with) whenever they breach public peace and people wonder why they do so unchecked.
Since hoodlums have been unleashing terror on communities and individuals, no known hoodlum has been arrested and prosecuted to serve as a deterrent and also prove that the state government is determined to rid the state of criminality. During the last violence in Iwo Road, which led to some deaths and left many people injured, videos showed many security personnel standing idle while hoodlums wreaked havoc.
A security source: “How do you arrest somebody who you know is untouchable because of his links with the governor?” The source queried. “We are only doing our little. Nobody wants to put his job or life on the line when the state government is not interested in what happens to you.”
A security expert, Prof. Isaac Albert of the University of Ibadan, said residents and other stakeholders are surprised because Oyo State had been one of the most peaceful states in Nigeria.
“Insecurity is a nationwide problem now. Every state is facing it. I think why that of Oyo State is now attracting attention is because Oyo State had been one of the most peaceful in the federation before now. In such a state, every case of insecurity attracts immediate attention,” he said.
Albert said insecurity has become fashionable in Nigeria and that some of the cases may have been politically motivated. He added that rising unemployment and the weak capacity of security agencies are factors to consider.
The academic said the Oyo State government should borrow a leaf from Lagos and Ogun states where armed robbers and other criminals now find it difficult to operate having strengthened security at the grassroots. He also urged residents to see security as everybody’s business and participate in efforts to rid communities of criminals.
Culled from The Nation